July 13, 2020

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The shape of things to come (with apologies to H. G. Wells)


On Friday my son’s wife took two of my grandkids and her mother on a mini-vacation – to Germany. In the four days that they’ve been there, there have been three terror attacks. I’m more than looking forward to their return.

I have a friend who visits Europe often. I try to get him to take a side trip to see me in Israel, but his wife is worried about terrorism. Hmm.

There is a bit of schadenfreude in Israel toward Europe. It gets stronger when the French take time off from picking up the body parts from the latest terrorist outrage to organize lynchings of Israel in the UN.

But we shouldn’t celebrate their misfortune too much. If Western Europe submits to the jihad or dissolves into violent conflict it will be very bad, both for them and for us.

And the United States – now there is a bomb with a short fuse. President Obama is already slipping out the back of the Middle East as Iran comes in the front door with guns blazing, but the real American retreat into irrelevance is yet to come when the rapidly growing internal conflicts start ripping the country apart. Yes, I expect that. I don’t have the words to describe what I think about the coming election and the candidates.

In both Europe and the US, the political options seem to be between those who pretend that the worldwide jihad isn’t a problem and those who think the solution is to kick out the foreigners and build higher border fences. This is only a delaying tactic: think of building a sand castle and surrounding it with multiple walls. Ultimately the tide comes in and the waves get them, one by one.

The solution is for the democratic, enlightened Western nations to get together, make a plan to crush the jihad and carry it out. The military might of the West could make mincemeat of Da’esh, destroy Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and put an end to some of the smaller terrorist groups in a matter of weeks. With the heads cut off, the jihad in general would wither. Islam would have to wait another few hundred years before taking another shot at world domination.

In an ideal world, this is the kind of thing a real “United Nations” would do. Stop laughing, it isn’t funny.

I can’t imagine this happening today, and the likelihood of it happening in the near future seems even smaller. On the other hand, while the jihadists have very different ideologies and goals, they are capable of cooperating when it helps them to defeat common enemies.

Things are getting worse and they will probably get much worse before getting better. It isn’t going to be easy for Israel to survive in the coming chaotic world. So here are some of my suggestions:

  1. PM Netanyahu’s efforts to improve relationships with India, Russia, China, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and several smaller African nations (did I leave anything out?) are a good thing. Chad won’t replace Germany, but in a wild melee, every friend counts.
  2. We need to keep maximum strategic depth. It would be very stupid to open up an eastern door to Iran or Da’esh in return for Western guarantees. The West can’t guarantee its own borders, never mind ours. Just say no to two-state stupidity.
  3. We need to maintain our military strength, even in scenarios in which we can’t depend on the US. The F-35 that the US is selling Israel is very expensive, has numerous problems, is not a match for the latest Russian fighters, and doesn’t meet our needs for a long-range attack aircraft capable of hitting Iran. The US would not agree to provide a new F-15 stealth variant instead of additional F-35s. It may be too late to develop our own, but there are other countries that manufacture capable aircraft, including Russia and China.
  4. We should take steps to reduce the ability of other countries, especially the US, to intervene in our politics and our military operations. Get rid of the European-paid NGOs and the American radar installations. Stock up on ammunition and equipment that is hard to replace.
  5. We should encourage European Jews to make aliyah. This might be a short-term burden for Israel, but it could save their lives. In the long term it will benefit our economy and society.
  6. Do the Bank of Israel and the government have plans for how to respond to a sudden fall in the dollar? They should.

Israel is doing better than it ever has, economically, politically and socially. But the relative stability of the post-WWII period – or even of the longer Western ascendance that began with the Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 – may be coming to an end. The geopolitical environment we live in is already changing rapidly.

As usual, I specialize in doom and gloom. But I think we can survive. Perhaps rather than a world-wide dark age, there will be a realignment of powers, with the US and Western Europe playing a less important role, especially in the Middle East. Everything will turn upside down, but there will be advantages as well as problems for us. Our leaders need to think creatively about how to act in a different world. But unlike the past two millennia, the Jewish people don’t have to hunker down and hope for the best. We have the ability to act and steer the direction of history.

It could mean the destruction of Israel and a new dispersion of the Jewish people. But on the other hand, if we make the right alliances and use our power judiciously, it may be that the Jewish state will find its place as a regional powerhouse.

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